The 100% recycled cardboard cat tepee by Loyal Luxe.

10 Non-Indian Tepees: Get Ready for Tepee Mania


A story in the New York Daily News over the weekend entitled "Hip households in New York are installing tepees as places of play and reflection" documented the phenomenon of indoor tepees, which are "taking off in New York."

The story highlights tepees built by young urban parents in their homes in Brooklyn, as well as one belonging to a young woman who enjoys sitting inside it and writing poetry. Also mentioned are a couple of tepees built to add ambience to commercial spaces in Manhattan. But the Daily News article doesn't forget to give some cultural context: "Of course, Brooklyn hipsters didn’t invent tepees, and their significance in Native American culture can’t be ignored" it says, then goes on to quote Ines Hernandez-Avila, Native American Studies department chair at the University of California, Davis.

Her view: "It's a really strange thing to do."

And New Yorkers wonder why the rest of the country hates them sometimes. But it makes us wonder—when enough Brooklyn hipsters do something to justify articles in the local press, are we deeper into the trend than we might have imagined? Have we arrived at, or passed, the tepee tipping point?

Whatever the case, we're bracing for tepee mania. Here's a quick look at what's already out there:

The Brooklyn Indoor Tepee

A tepee in Brooklyn, from the New York Daily News article "Hip households in New York are installing tepees as places of play and reflection."

A Tepee for your Special Day

Site says a tepee is a cool alternative to a bland tent at weddings. OneWed points to the kids' tents at Kate Moss's 2011 wedding as key to the trend, but  the New York Times says that Euros in tepees goes back perhaps as much as a decade.

Tepee for Squeamish Parents

The Pee-pee Teepee. This product claims it's "for the sprinkling wee-wee"—although, let's face it, wee-wees have been sprinkling since the dawn of time. This is not a new problem. A parent who carries around a sack of these felt cones to avoid contact with baby pee—as if that were even possible—is kind of a wimp.

Feline Tepee

With canvas panels and birch poles, CatTipi is the fancy tepee for cats. Much fancier than the cardboard cat tepee.  Although you just have to wonder: Does a cat in a tepee—even a very smart cat—know he's in a tepee? With no sense of human culture or history (much less cultural appropriation), this furry fella might be just as happy in a cardboard box that says "SEARS" on the side.

Tepee in Denial

This tepee is designed by Cath Kidston and sold by Free People, and curiously described as a "retro inspired tent." Looks like a tepee-inspired tepee to us, but what do we know.  Wait a minute, Free People... why is that name familiar? Oh, right—it's a sub-brand of Urban Outfitters, the company that got in trouble for selling Indian-ish things as Indian. No wonder this tepee wants to be a "retro inspired tent."

It's cool, Mr. Te—er, Mr. Retro Inspired Tent, your secret is safe with us.

Ink Tepee

Tepee tattoo by David Robinson, found on his blog

Tepee with Crudeetees

We have to hand it to the food blogger at RookNo17—making a tepee out of a quesadilla and carrots is pretty clever. But without the Li'l Red Sambo figure (really?) we might not have recognized them as tepees.


This isn't your typical tepee interior—for starters, it's in Portugal. This picture comes from Tipi Algarve, a resort where visitors pay to stay in gussied-up tepees, safari tents, and yurts. This is the interior of the Buddha Tipi, which can be yours for about $500/week. It's all part of a trend in vacationing called "glamping"—glamorous camping. (Yes, this is a real thing—visit for a wide selection of high-end getaways featuring huts, treehouses, and eco-pods.)

Sweet Tepee

We found these Ice Cream Cone Tepees at Quick Dish, and they look delicious! They don't really look like tepees, but your stomach doesn't really care. (Note: they are filled with cake, not ice cream.)

Roadside Tepees

The Teepee Motel & RV Park of Wharton, Texas, a landmark/eyesore since 1942, restored and modernized by Texas Lottery winner Bryon Woods in the 21st century.

See also the Wigwam Motels in Holbrook, AZ; Cave City, KY; and San Bernardino, CA.



Paul Benton Sr.'s picture
Paul Benton Sr.
Submitted by Paul Benton Sr. on

I am a tipi maker and owner of Ahki Tipi, I am also Pocomoke, one of many unrecognized NA nations in Maryland. While reading this I thought I'd chime in with my two cents. We started making tipis for friends who used them for Ceremony specifically. Currently we sell our lodges all over the world and people do seem to find very creative ways to put them to use. Other brothers and sisters make dance fans, drums, flutes, pipes, sage bundles, cedar and regalia then sell to anyone with $$ at powwows. They are unaware of what people do with them once they take them home. For all we know they are doing some crazy things as well. I recently shared a petition to you guys that asks ETSY stop allowing people from selling Eagle, Hawk and Falcon feathers and you have yet to post it or support it in any way. While poking fun at people for making a tent that looks like a tipi is funny, it hardly addresses things that are much more important to our people. JUST SAYIN ! You have the means to deliver this petition to so many NAs and yet you waste your time poking fun at non natives who finds joy in making/using something that resembles a tipi.

Tracie's picture
Submitted by Tracie on

I suppose if I were inclined, I could be perturbed by these images. However, I'll chalk this one up to the old adage, "Pick your battles." While some of these images might be tacky and a smidge demeaning, albeit unintentionally, it's interesting to see all the different ways people are using this design. People use all kinds of things from different cultures. People use Chinese food containers as other things, not the actual containers, they're the kind you'd use for arts and crafts. People use Hawaiian this and Hawaiian that in their clothes and designs and theme parties, and I see people walk around with serapes and ponchos from Latin America. The list goes on and on. The teepee is an ingenious design, and you'd have to be a fool not to try and benefit from what a thousand years of engineering has provided. And btw, while my first reaction to seeing the Cat Teepee was one of shock and embarrassment I quickly dismissed it when I realized that people do things like this all the time, only they've used things that resemble mansions and other "urban" dwellings. So why not a teepee one? When I came down from my high horse, I realize just how much I enjoy those little teepees, especially the pic titled, "Feline Tepee." I would so put one of those in my own home! They're adorable in a way and I think that's probably, ultimately, what the designers were going for.